E RECENTLY posted a lengthy article giving details on why the EASTER VIGIL was celebrated early on Holy Saturday morning (or early afternoon) for more than 1,000 years. A famous internet priest—known for his expertise in the sacred liturgy—called this article “a truly outstanding resource for anyone wishing to understand the changes made by Pope Pius XII to Holy Week.” The article is also thievery, because it rips off the highlights (“tip of the iceberg”) from the third edition of the SAINT EDMUND CAMPION MISSAL, which contains copious information, quotes, comparative charts, and so forth regarding the 1950 version of Holy Week vs. the 1962 version.1
Remarkable Discovery! • That lengthy article explains the damage done by tampering with the traditional times of celebration. Recently, an anonymous Twitter account revealed something jaw-dropping. Owing to the harm caused by the reformers’ fiddling with the traditional times, bishops’ conferences were asking Rome for solutions. But rather than allowing the traditional times, the Vatican gave permission to allow the EASTER VIGIL (a.k.a. “Easter Eve”) to be celebrated on Easter Sunday morning!
Permission was granted (for five years, beginning in 1968) by the Vatican.
BCL Newsletter • The BCL Newsletter circa 1968 gives more details:
Father Michael Irwin • There was a time during the 1990s when my family went to Mass at a parish where Father Michael Irwin (d. 2019) was the pastor. One year, I remember vividly how Father Irwin decided the EASTER VIGIL would start at 8:00pm. A certain faction of the parish were all part of a particular ‘traditionalist’ movement which was rather militant. [I will not specify its name, because it’s irrelevant.] This group decided to boycott the EASTER VIGIL that year, because—according to what they believed—the EASTER VIGIL must take place around Midnight, otherwise it’s “modernist.” Anyone who’s read my lengthy article will realize how wrongheaded such an idea was. Indeed, Father Irwin’s vigil was closer to the traditional time! (But, of course, the rebel faction didn’t realize that.) Even as a young child, it struck me as reprehensible to boycott the Mass of one’s pastor. Looking back, I still feel that way.
Conclusion • My colleague, Corrinne May, told me that I do a poor job of ending my articles. She says I often fail to give a proper summation. Therefore, let me say:
(1) The reformers harmed the church greatly by thoughtlessly modifying the traditional times of Holy Week. To give just one example, their tinkering destroyed TENEBRAE, an ancient ceremony held in high esteem by Catholics (during which they were exposed to more Sacred Scripture than at any other time).
(2) This damage was recognized at the time. For example, many churches in Rome simply ignored the new directives! They kept doing TENEBRAE. The American bishops, writing to Rome, explained the harm caused by moving the Easter Vigil from its traditional time (which had worked very well for 1,000+ years). Rather than allowing them to keep the traditional time, Rome gave permission to celebrate the Easter Vigil on the morning of Easter Sunday. Do we really believe that most Catholics—having attended the Easter Vigil on Easter Sunday morning—returned later that day to attend Easter Sunday Mass? As I pointed out in my lengthy article, the Easter Vigil Mass has less music than any other Mass. It has no INTROIT, no GRADUAL, no SEQUENCE, no CREDO, no OFFERTORY, no AGNUS DEI, no COMMUNION ANTIPHON, and so forth. Even the lowest ferial Mass has more music than the Easter Vigil Mass. Ever since 1955, the erroneous idea has arisen (and is still with us) that the EASTER VIGIL constitutes “the crown jewel” of the liturgical year. This erroneous idea has resulted in neglect of Easter Sunday. Because of this false notion, many Catholics never hear the “Victimæ Paschali,” or the “Hæc Dies,” or the ancient “Pascha Nostrum” Alleluia. And that’s lamentable.
(3) Those interested in the specific differences between the 1950 Holy Week and the 1962 Holy Week should consult the third edition of the SAINT EDMUND CAMPION MISSAL.
1 Indeed, the CAMPION MISSAL is the only hand-missal which contains both versions of Holy Week.